Written for Goldenlake's Peculiar Pairings Ficathon, actually the first thing that I wrote for that. Features femmeslash and het, but the pairings can be a surprise?

I.

"You were more than I ever hoped for," the Lioness says, taking her hand and covering it with one that is worn, gentle, and callused. "You succeeded under pressures that other girls may have cracked under. You did it, Lady Knight, and because you did others can too."

Kel nods dumbly. The Lioness is here, and all she is doing is flushing a dull umber, unable to speak, to respond to the praise. She forces out words. "I thank you for your kind words." Alanna smiles. "You are being far too formal, Keladry- I suppose that's what comes of having Wyldon train you in manners." She leans in close- closer- and kisses Kel on the lips. Strong arms slip around Kel's sturdy form, steadying her.

"Now," Alanna says, when she has pulled away. "I believe that there is a party to be attended, no?"

II.

"You're an idealist," Buri says. "It's what I like about you, Keladry." Kel wraps her hands around the cup of cider, letting it warm her in a way that she doesn't entirely think she deserves.

"He hurt her. And I could have stopped it. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but she asked me- and I couldn't-"

"So next time you'll do the right thing," Buri says with a shrug. "The Chamber has punished him far more than you ever could, and by the looks of the marks on him he'll be feeling that for a long time."

"I know," Kel responds automatically. She fidgets in her seat. "But I could have stopped it and I didn't. I feel like I failed." Buri's dark eyes are warm and kind.

"You didn't fail, Keladry." She gets up. "Now, come with me."

III.

It's wrong, isn't it, to be doing this. Panicked thoughts are swimming through her head, and her image of herself as a calm, centered person is rapidly disintegrating into no more than dust. She sinks onto the desk, grasping the edges for support, and one of the stone figurines that he keeps there falls and shatters on the floor.

She isn't thinking of Cleon, or Dom, or anyone, just of the feeling of his firm mouth on hers and how his arm supports her. She leans, opening herself up to his ministrations. She realizes that the door is open, and Lord Wyldon will have visitors as soon as the news spreads, and it will spread- "Oh God," Kel whispers, disconnecting. "I- I should go." She slides off of the desk, avoiding her training master's cool, bemused eyes. "I'm sorry, milord." She hurries out the door.

IV.

Kel knows that Owen has long held a soft spot for her. Friendship can develop and change as people grow older, but she isn't sure how comfortable she is with this friendship growing in this particular direction. Owen is standing in front of her, hope in his eyes, and the last thing she wants to do is break his heart. Yet she does it anyways.

"I'm sorry," she mutters, eyes downcast. "It's just, I don't feel that way, and it wouldn't be fair to lead you on-" "I understand," Owen says. "Really, Kel, it's okay."

"It isn't," Kel says. "It's not fine, but-"

Owen hugs her, stopping her from completing her sentence. "I'll let myself out," he says, and leaves the confines of her tent. Kel watches him go, winding his way amongst the labyrinth of the camped progress, and she knows in her heart that something between them has just changed for the worst.